Insights from The Next Web Valencia: Friday Conference Day 2

My 2nd day began with a breakfast at MiKENGO followed by a day of talks where I primarily stayed around TNW’s “Growth Quarters” (Impact and Innovate being the other two stages). Due to the wind, the organisers had to migrate the outside Innovate stage to the Growth Quarters area and so I caught a bit of both tracks.

Opening my day was “Valencia’s Strategic Plan: What’s Next in the City’s tech evolution?” featuring Borja (Valencia City Council), Lucia (Valencia Activa), Guillermo (Invest In Valencia) and Ioanna (TNW), who, funnily enough, discussed Valencia’s strategic plan going forward.

They talked about how 8 years ago they wanted to build a new economic system for better talent and quality of life through being aligned with 0-carbon economy goals, European Commission goals and wider sustainable development goals. In order to achieve this they began working more closely with the university for R&D, aiming to become in the top 10 most innovative hubs in Europe. They named this strategic plan “Valencia Tech City” with an ambition to pursue expertise in technology, innovation and entrepreneurship, developed in collaboration with the whole ecosystem, to develop by 2025.

In this insightful talk the quartet mentioned Valencia is facing challenges in attracting international talent from abroad, technology transfer, and, challenges with the maturity level of start-ups. To help work past some of these, they mentioned there has been a notable push in developing physical spaces for collaboration and creation of new tech start-ups which has been influencing real-estate considerations for companies related to finding the right way for their model of work e.g Hybrid working models and a fundamental rethinking of what the office will become.

The went on to pose the question “what attracts investors to Valencia?” to which the answer was –

  1. Quality talent.
  2. Average cost is lower than other spanish cities.
  3. Business culture is attractive, in line with the quality of life. 

Once again echoing one of the mega themes of the conference, the group discussed the importance of public-private collaborations noting that the private sector have the market feelings and tools, but, the private sector need the public sector to achieve higher goals; the government model for the Valencia Tech City strategic plan is built by entities other than just city hall and they have built a multi-stakeholder council that is leading this strategic plan. 

From this scene-setting talk, my day went on to feature a host of insights related to –

  • Open Innovation and Collaboration – where we heard about the centre for innovation giving entrepreneurship and innovation programs that focus on trends research, prototyping and strategy projects. Companies support this program by bringing real-world problems to the program to solve. 
  • Using tomorrow’s intelligence to solve tomorrow’s problems by the brilliant thought leader Gianni Giacomelli who discussed the concept of collective intelligence through a socio-economic system behaving like a nature-inspired organic supermind that considers a connected ecosystem rather than just a single organism (e.g. wildebeests and zebra migrating together for protection). Gianni gave some key pillars of what a supermind takes into consideration –
  1. Network structure – needs to be definable and understandable
  2. Goals and inventive that enable the energy of the system to flow in the right way. 
  3. Pushing knowledge to the network with information feeders
  4. Collaboration 

AI tends to help with collective intelligence through Connect / Compute / Curate / Collaborate.

  • Q&A with Scott Hartley who said that Valencia needs to think about other Spanish markets due to the language connection, or, the European market.
  • Jaegermeister’s own VC arm called who invest in the nightlife industry. Lorrain, who manages the fund, spoke about the fund investing in consumer tech and properties that are investing in social interactions in real life. The ambition is to leverage social interactions and measuring the impact of the startups on the social lives of their consumers.  Jaegermeister operate in 155 markets. The BestNights VC fund invests in early pre-seed to late-seed series A with ticket sizes of between 150k to 1.5M and a portfolio of 11 companies in 6 countries. They have a preference for direct-2-community business models and are looking to touch emerging markets and only invest if it has cultural relevance.

At around 4:30pm a large portion of the audience began moving towards TNW’s boat party for which you can see a short clip below.

Concluding Remarks

I’ve have to thank Zach Butler for getting me there, Myrthe for leading the effort, and, thank Lorraine for managing one of the coolest VC funds focussed on “investing in tech, to get people to go out, so that they don’t have to use tech”. This man should be a consultant for how we should be thinking about technology. 

Published by Prab Jaswal

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